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Morris valiant in loss to Giants
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 2      1   Final
10/14/2002 11:33 pm ET 
 Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
 Cardinals 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 9 0
 Giants 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 7 0
Morris valiant in loss to Giants
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com

Mike Matheny scored the Cardinals' only run in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly by Fernando Vina. (Ben Margot/AP)
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cardinals' amazing 2002 ride, alternately agonizing and uplifting, is over, seven wins short of the team's goal.

Kenny Lofton's single off Steve Kline drove in David Bell to give the Giants a 2-1 win over St. Louis on Monday night and a 4-1 win in the National League Championship Series. Matt Morris pitched brilliantly for 8 2/3 innings but took the loss.

Morris was spectacular early and gutty late, but in the end he couldn't hold off one of the National League's best offenses.

"It's tough to end like this," Morris said. "I'm sure I'll take a lot of positives out of it, but it was a tough year for all of us."

The Cardinals clubhouse was the picture of silent, dejected disbelief after an eight-month quest fell short. This was a team that overcame an almost unimaginable set of obstacles: the deaths of teammate Darryl Kile and legendary broadcaster Jack Buck and a sea of injuries to the pitching staff, just to name the most prominent.

But there was little solace in what the team accomplished. That will have to wait.

"We fell short," said catcher Mike Matheny. "I hope everybody feels the same way. Making it to the postseason is nice, and getting past the first round is good. But that wasn't our goal. And I think whenever you fall short of your goal, there shouldn't be any contentment."

Morris, more than anyone the symbol of this year's Cardinals, was given the ball in the biggest game of his career, and he did all that he could. By the time the Giants got their first hit off him, Morris had lasted longer than he did in a Game 1 flameout.

POLL

But after pitching seven shutout innings, the big right-hander got into trouble in the eighth, and he was beaten in the ninth.

"I was able to get ahead," said Morris, one of Kile's best friends and the team's undisputed ace after Kile's passing. "They were swinging early like they were in St. Louis, but I was making better pitches, getting some outs early."

No Giant even reached base until the fourth inning, when Morris hit Kenny Lofton in the side with a pitch.

Meanwhile the Cardinals offense picked up right where it left off on Sunday -- stranding runners in scoring position. Right fielder Eduardo Perez flied out to left with two on to end the first. Mike Matheny grounded out and Morris flied out after Edgar Renteria reached second base with one down in the second inning. Albert Pujols struck out looking and Eduardo Perez grounded out with runners on the corners in the third. The Cardinals went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Monday, and 3-for-39 in the series.

Back to WorldSeries.com But despite that, St. Louis still scratched out a lead in the seventh. Matheny kicked off a rally with a leadoff double that bounced off Lofton's glove. Morris laid down a bunt and pitcher Felix Rodriguez attempted to make the play at third, but Matheny was called safe and St. Louis had runners on the corners. Fernando Vina followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.

The Giants tied it in the eighth, but they had a chance at a much bigger outburst. Lofton and Aurilia singled and Kent was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with one out for Bonds. The slugger lifted a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game before Santiago grounded out to end the threat.

Manager Tony La Russa stuck with Morris in the ninth, and the ace almost made the decision look perfect. He dispatched the first two hitters before David Bell singled. Shawon Dunston followed with a single of his own and La Russa called on Kline. But for the second straight year, the lefty-killer couldn't finish off the inning, as Lofton's single ended the Redbirds' campaign.

"You've got to let it go," Kline said. "I can't go home and smack my head against the wall and howl. It ain't gonna change anything. You've just got to get over it and get ready for the next season. Go home and you hear it from everybody. 'What happened?' You just go about your business and get ready for next year."

But that will be hard to do. This was the year for the Cardinals. In March they were a World Series favorite, with a quality lineup, a deep bullpen and a wealth of starting pitching. They struggled in April and were punched in the gut in June, but by August they were looking like a team of destiny.

And now, after coming so close, they will go 4 1/2 months without playing another baseball game.

"There's no doubt it's a special team," said reliever Dave Veres, who was Kile's best friend on the team. "But we still wanted to go a little bit further. What we overcame was amazing, but still kind of feel like we underachieved.

"What we had to go through this year, you can't help but be proud of the guys and the way we battled and showed our character. But it still doesn't mean we're content with the outcome."

What was disappointment on the faces of the players was disgust in the manager's office, though. La Russa, who won a world title in 1989 with Oakland but hasn't been to the World Series in 12 years, took the loss harder than many.

"We didn't win one category," he said. "You get this far into it, you've got to raise your level of play. We didn't. They did. That's why they're still going.

"We got outplayed in every facet. The brutal truth is, it was there for us this postseason. We were going to the World Series. Except we didn't. They did. That's not fun to think about."

For what it was worth, though, one prominent member of the organization had nothing but kind words.

"Sometimes when you go down to a bitter defeat like this, what you have is how proud you are of the team and how well they did," said team chairman Frederick O. Hanser. "If you go on to win the World Series, of course you're proud of them. But somehow the bitterness of this defeat brings out the incredible character of these guys and how well they've performed all year long under adversity, bouncing back. It's just a tremendous achievement."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached at Matthew_H_Leach@yahoo.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.




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BOX SCORE
San Francisco Giants 2, St Louis Cardinals 1
 
St Louis AB R H RBI BBSOLOBAVG
Vina, 2B 4011000.261
Cairo, 3B 5020011.385
Edmonds, CF 4020012.400
Pujols, 1B 4010014.263
Perez, RF 2000104.250
Drew, RF 1000000.385
Renteria, SS 4020000.158
Marrero, LF 4000003.188
Matheny, C 4110001.316
Morris, P 3000011.000
Kline, P 0000000.000
Totals351911416 
 
BATTING
2B: Matheny (2, Rodriguez).
RBI: Vina (2).
S: Morris.
SF: Vina.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Perez 2, Morris, Marrero, Pujols.
Team LOB: 10.
 
FIELDING
DP: (Cairo-Pujols).
 
 
San Francisco AB R H RBI BBSOLOBAVG
Lofton, CF 4131000.238
Aurilia, SS 2010010.333
Kent, 2B 3000003.263
Bonds, LF 2001101.273
Santiago, C 3000104.300
Goodwin, RF 3000021.000
Eyre, P 0000000.000
Worrell, P 0000000.000
a-Martinez, PH 1000000.000
Snow, 1B 4000001.250
Bell, 3B 4120000.412
Rueter, P 2000002.000
Rodriguez, P 0000000.000
Dunston, RF 2010010.500
Totals302722412 
 
a-Popped out for Worrell in the 9th.
 
BATTING
2B: Bell (1, Morris).
RBI: Bonds (6), Lofton (2).
2-out RBI: Lofton.
S: Aurilia.
SF: Bonds.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Bonds, Rueter 2, Santiago 2.
GIDP: Kent.
Team LOB: 9.
 
St Louis IP H R ER BBSOHRERA
Morris (L, 0-2) 8.26222406.23
Kline 0.01000000.00
 
San Francisco IP H R ER BBSOHRERA
Rueter 6.06001204.09
Rodriguez 1.02110001.93
Eyre 0.10000000.00
Worrell (W, 2-0) 1.21000202.08
 
IBB: Bonds (by Morris).
HBP: Lofton (by Morris), Aurilia (by Morris), Kent (by Morris).
Pitches-strikes: Morris 99-62, Kline 1-1, Rueter 95-59, Rodriguez 22-13, Eyre 4-3, Worrell 21-15.
Ground outs-fly outs: Morris 11-11, Kline 0-0, Rueter 9-7, Rodriguez 1-3, Eyre 1-0, Worrell 2-1.
Batters faced: Morris 36, Kline 1, Rueter 25, Rodriguez 6, Eyre 1, Worrell 6.
Inherited runners-scored: Kline 2-1.
Umpires: HP: Tim Welke. 1B: Charlie Reliford. 2B: Randy Marsh. 3B: Jeff Nelson. LF: Dale Scott. RF: Jeff Kellogg.
Weather: 69 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 14 mph, Out to RF.
T: 3:01.
Att: 42,673.
 
Box score official statistics approved by Major League Baseball and the Office of the Commissioner